After crossing under the Centennial Bridge we approached the first of three Pacific locks that will lower us 84 feet (25.6 meters) to the Pacific Ocean; Panama Canal, Panama
Our first blog post on “Transiting the Panama Canal” took us from the Caribbean Sea entrance to the Panama Canal at Colon, Panama, and through the Gatun locks; the second followed our journey across Gatun Lake in very inclement weather. This third blog post takes us down through the three Pacific Ocean-side-of-the-canal locks (84 feet, or 25.6 meters) to the Pacific Ocean.
In the photograph, above, on the far right hand side, the new channel for the new locks (about 50% longer and wider than the 1914 locks) is visible. Built by the Panamanians, the new locks will accommodate the newer, massive freighters for the first time — scheduled for opening in April 2016.
Approaching the single Pedro Miguel lock that will begin our descent to the Pacific Ocean; Panama Canal, Panama
After the water level in the Pedro Miguel lock was lowered and the gates opened, the “mules” pull us into Miraflores Lake; Panama Canal, Panama
One of the four “Panama Canal mules” (electric locomotives) that pulled us into, through, and out of the Pedro Miguel lock; Panama Canal, Panama
Beautiful geometric patterns of the adjacent lock gates holding water; Panama Canal, Panama
Being positioned, by the “mules”, in the first of two Miraflores locks (along with one of the Canal’s tugboats); Panama Canal, Panama
Looking aft from the stern of our ship towards the Centennial Bridge and the Caribbean Sea, from the first Miraflores lock, as the water is drained; Panama Canal, Panama
Looking forward from the bow of our ship as we get snuggled into the second Miraflores lock; Panama Canal, Panama
Watching the water drain from the lock by gravity — no pumps — lowering us down to the level of the Pacific Ocean; Panama Canal, Panama
After the water levels were equalized, the gates are electrically opened and we prepare for the final “pull” from the “mules”; Panama Canal, Panama
The tugboat that shared these locks with us steams out towards the Pacific Ocean under its own power; Panama Canal, Panama
Disconnected from the “mules”, we proceed under our own power towards the Bridge of the Americas and the Pacific Ocean; Panama Canal, Panama
The Panama Canal has been called the “Greatest Shortcut” in history. Prior to its completion, the added distance for ships sailing from New York to San Francisco around Cape Horn at the lower tip of South America versus through the Panama Canal was 8,000 miles (12,874 kilometers).
Sailing at dusk towards the Bridge of the Americas and the Pacific Ocean; Panama Canal, Panama
A telescopic, twilight view of some of Panama City’s new high rises overlooking the Pacific Ocean; Panama Canal, Panama
The Panama Canal has been described as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” and the greatest engineering achievement since the Great Pyramids of Egypt.
As dusk turned to night, we sailed under the Bridge of the Americas and into the Pacific Ocean; Panama Canal, Panama
This was a truly remarkable day. Breakfast in the Caribbean Sea, riding up through the locks to witness nature’s fury with the thunderstorms on Gatun Lake after lunch on the lake, and then descending the southern locks to cross under the Bridge of the Americas and dine on the Pacific after sunset. The journey generated a toast that evening to the foresight, leadership, perseverance. engineering brilliance and hard work of countless French and American leaders over decades (1880 to the canal opening in 1914), and a memorial toast to the thousands who died in the jungle while helping build this amazing transcontinental canal.